Monday, April 3, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The Masters Preview

Let's get one thing out of the way before we move on to the solemn business of previewing the preeminent tournament of the year. I just turned-down Orioles opening day tickets so I'd have the time to write this thing which in Baltimore is almost the equivalent of claiming that you ate a better crabcake somewhere else (almost). I did this for two reasons: (1) You. My readership of dozens. (You're welcome). And (2) because I'm blowing pretty much all of Tuesday playing golf and gambling on this tournament with a couple hundred clueless country club denizens rocking blue blazers and happy colored pants who "really like Phil's chances this year." (And I still won't win any damn money). 

(Editor's Note: This is the esteemed Masters preview so we're toning-down the jokes and the pictures. And we're going to avoid using the word "fuck." Fuck I just did it. Well then fuck it on toning down the pictures. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck).  

We're going to look at this from a couple different angles because the Masters is the one tournament that generates wagering interest beyond just picking one guy or trying to beat a bunch of computer models on DraftKings. So we're going to do both an overall ranking and a list of ten DraftKings value picks. But first, we actually did some RESEARCH!!! (I'm thrusting my index finger into the air as I say it) based on our hunch that Jordan Spieth has been fairly dominant at Augusta over the past few years. And as you might imagine, we were able to conjure-up and massage some data to support our hypothesis. (I really need to get into politics).


The following breakdown is fairly simple as it's just aggregate scoring over the past three seasons. There is one tweak, however, which is that, if a player missed the cut or did not play, we assigned him the score of a guy finishing around 40th so the data doesn't get distorted by what could have been one bad round.* The results are pretty convincing.



2016
2015
2014
Total
Spieth
-2
-18
-5
-25
Rose
1
-14
1
-12
McIlroy
1
-12
E
-11
Matsuyama
E
-11
7
-4
Casey
-1
-9
7
-3
D. Johnson
-1
-9
7
-3
Westwood
-2
2
-1
-1
Day
1
-1
2
2
Oosthuizen
3
-4
3
2
Fowler
10
-6
-2
2
B. Watson
9
1
-8
2
Mickelson
10
-14
7
3
Hoffman
7
-8
7
6
Kuchar
6
2
-2
6
Holmes
-1
1
7
7

If my third grade level math is right, Spieth's scoring average over the last twelve rounds at Augusta is more than one shot lower than the next best guy and two shots lower than everyone but five other guys. Suffice it to say that arguably the world's best putter is pretty comfortable playing on and around arguably the world's best greens. So he's the mortal lock right? Not so fast my friends.


Dustin Johnson has won three tournaments in a row and, after nothing but middling performances at the Masters in his first five trips, he proved in 2015 (T6th) and 2016 (T4th) that he has started to figure-out Augusta in the same way that he seems to have figured-out every other damn golf course he's played since the middle of last summer. Then again, golf courses tend to get easier when you're leading the tour in driving distance and greens in regulation. The fact that he's ranked 29th in strokes gained putting is just silly business when you realize it puts him ten spots higher than Spieth. Sure seems like D.J. is a slam dunk pick this week.      

And despite all of the evidence pointing to this being D.J.'s year, we're still going with Spieth. We here at the Fantasy Golf Report have a long history of making compelling cases for players to win tournaments and then going in a different direction only to see the guy we made the case for get the win. Sooner or later that strategy is going to payoff and we plan to stick with it until it does. Besides, I just can't get past how dominant Spieth has been over the last three years and hey, I don't want to think I wasted fifteen minutes doing all of that research for nothing.   

In addition to Spieth and D.J., you also have my blessing to pick Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler or Phil Mickelson. Especially Rory who is going to win at least one green jacket in his career or Phil because the only thing that would make this Sunday more fun than Phil winning would be if you picked him to do it. I'd avoid Hideki Matsuyama (slumping), Jon Rahm (rookie), Paul Casey (choker) and Jason Day who we last saw in a rocky emotional state at the Match Play. Look for him to win one between 2018 and 2020. If you're up against it and need a defensible reach, go with Bubba. He has a tendency to play great when he's the forgotten man. (Though that's essentially what I said when I picked him last year and he finished tied for 37th). Anyway, here are fifteen guys we see finishing in and near the top ten.

I'm not sure this is helping my
press credential application.
The Masters Top Fifteen

1. Jordan Spieth
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Justin Rose
5. Rickie Fowler
6. Paul Casey
7. Jon Rahm
8. Jason Day
9. Phil Mickelson
10. Bubba Watson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Adam Scott
13. Louis Oosthuizen
14. Russell Henley
15. Tyrrell Hatton

Now for the interesting part. Let's go find us some values and for that, it's back to the aggregate scoring. A simple cross check against the DraftKings salaries reveals some bargains like Louis Oosthuizen ($8,100), Paul Casey ($7,800), Matt Kuchar ($7,400) and Lee Westwood ($7,200). I'm building rosters around guys like that along with the big guns (Spieth, D.J. and Rory) and then filling-in one of my two random foreign players that the guys in blue blazers and happy colored pants** have never heard of - Soren Kjeldsen and Hideto Tanihara. Listening to the haphazard pronunciation of those names after the seventh vodka tonic will surely be one of the highlights of the evening.

The DraftKings Fifteen 
Can I get that in a 44 regular?

Jordan Spieth: $11,500
Dustin Johnson: $11,300
Rory McIlroy: $10,600
Rickie Fowler: $9,300
Justin Rose: $9,200
Louis Oosthuizen: $8,100
Paul Casey; $7,800
Tyrrell Hatton: $7,600
Matt Kuchar: $7,400
Emiliano Grillo: $7,300
Lee Westwood: $7,200
Russell Henley: $7,200
Charley Hoffman: $7,100
Soren Kjeldsen: $6,500
Hideto Tanihara: $6,500

Footnote

* If I really wanted to take this seriously, I would've dug a little deeper into each player's last twelve rounds played but that seemed like a lot of work and remember, I'm just a caveman. 

** Just to be clear. I am one of those guys.

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